The Corner

Left and Mod Squad On Social Security

A couple weeks ago I put up a half-joking post about “an incredibly powerful House Democrat” declaring himself in favor of a compromise on Social Security. Then I let on that I was actually talking about a former Democratic leader: Ex-Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Dan Rostenkowski. I do think Rostenkowski’s comments were fascinating. But the beginning of the post was a put-on. Over at TAPPED, though, Sam Rosenfeld (champion of “the principled case for doing nothing” about Social Security) has been wasting time obsessing about that light-hearted post–-instead of, say, discussing the Harper’s symposium on entitlements, or the Diamond Orszag plan, or the Wexler plan, or Mickey Kaus’s take on Social Security, or that report the other day from Bloomberg. I guess this principled advocate of doing nothing is just taking his own advice to heart.

Now I don’t know if we’re going to get a deal on Social Security. And I certainly don’t know what an ultimate deal would look like, or just what I’d think of it. But I do believe a deal is more likely than most people realize. Looks like the “Gang of Fourteen” may try to arrange an agreement, as this piece from The Hill indicates. Now it’s going to be a whole lot tougher for centrists to put through a Social Security compromise than a deal on judges. Social Security reform will be impossible without direction from the president and the congressional leadership. Still, if the centrists join the debate on Social Security, that will build pressure on everyone to come to terms. In that atmosphere, the Democrats’ stonewall could fail.

We’re facing a huge entitlement problem. Failure to fix Social Security now is going to lead to years of political gridlock on Medicare reform as well. Over time, gridlock on entitlements could provoke an economic crisis. Could the Democrats succeed in blocking a solution? Sure. The shame of it is that some folks are actually proud of that.

It seems that former President Clinton agrees. At least that’s what Morton Kondracke claims. According to Kondracke, Clinton told ABC’s Good Morning America that the Democrats need to come up with their own Social Security plan. (But curiously, notes Kondracke, Good Morning America didn’t broadcast the exchange.) Clinton must of talked with Dan Rostenkowski.


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